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Marine pollution, overrepresented by plastic, is a growing concern worldwide. However, there is little knowledge on occurrence and detrimental impacts of marine debris in cetaceans. To partially fill in this gap of knowledge, we aimed to investigate the occurrence and pathologies associated with foreign bodies (FBs) in a large cohort of cetaceans (n = 465) stranded in the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands shelter the greatest cetacean biodiversity in Europe, with up to 30 different species, of which nine are regularly present year around. We found at least one ingested FB in 36 out of 465 (7.74%) studied cetaceans, involving 15 different species, including eight out of the nine (80%) cetacean species present year-round in the Canary Islands. Risso's dolphin was the species most affected, followed by sperm whale, beaked whale and mysticetes. Plastic FB were the most common item found (80.56%). FB was directly associated with death in 13/36 (36.11%) animals. Poor body condition and deep diving behavior were found to be risk factors for FB ingestion, whereas the adult age was a protective factor. To the authors knowledge this is the first study that use statistical analysis to investigate risk and protective factors for FB ingestion. This study also provides insights of the potential impact caused by ingested FBs on the animal's health and mortality. This knowledge is critical to better understand and assess the impact of FB in cetaceans setting the scientific basis for prospective impact monitoring and future conservation policies.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)
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Histiocytic, inflammatory response to a foreign body. It consists of modified macrophages with multinucleated giant cells, in this case foreign-body giant cells (GIANT CELLS, FOREIGN-BODY), usually surrounded by lymphocytes.
Mammals of the families Delphinidae (ocean dolphins), Iniidae, Lipotidae, Pontoporiidae, and Platanistidae (all river dolphins). Among the most well-known species are the BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHIN and the KILLER WHALE (a dolphin). The common name dolphin is applied to small cetaceans having a beaklike snout and a slender, streamlined body, whereas PORPOISES are small cetaceans with a blunt snout and rather stocky body. (From Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th ed, pp978-9)
Chronic inflammation and granuloma formation around irritating foreign bodies.
Migration of a foreign body from its original location to some other location in the body.
Studies used to test etiologic hypotheses in which inferences about an exposure to putative causal factors are derived from data relating to characteristics of persons under study or to events or experiences in their past. The essential feature is that some of the persons under study have the disease or outcome of interest and their characteristics are compared with those of unaffected persons.